a. An erroneous perception of reality: Mirrors gave the illusion of spaciousness.
b. An erroneous concept or belief: The notion that money can buy happiness is an illusion.
2. The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief: spent months flailing about in illusion.
3. Something that is erroneously perceived or construed: The animal in the shadows turned out to be an illusion.
4. A fine transparent net fabric, used for dresses or trimmings.
[Middle English illusioun, from Old French, from Late Latin illūsiō, illūsiōn-, from Latin, a mocking, irony, from illūsus, past participle of illūdere, to mock : in-, against; see IN-2 + lūdere, to play; see leid- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
il·lusion·al, il·lusion·ar′y (-zhə-nĕr′ē) adj.
(click for a larger image)illusion
top: straight horizontal rules appear curved
bottom: a gray box against a black background appears lighter than the same gray box against a white background
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.